Professor Rachel Bowlby


Rachel Bowlby

Education and Experience 

From 2004-2014 Rachel Bowlby was Lord Northcliffe Professor of Modern English Literature at UCL; she is now primarily attached to Princeton University. Here at UCL she teaches courses for the Issues in Modern Culture MA in English, and for the MA in Comparative Literature.

Before coming to UCL, Rachel taught at the universities of Sussex, Oxford, and York. Before that she was a student at Oxford and then at Yale, where she studied Comparative Literature and wrote a PhD thesis on novels about women and shopping. This became her first book, Just Looking: Consumer Culture in Dreiser, Gissing and Zola.

Rachel has also been a visiting professor at a number of universities including Cornell, Rutgers, Otago (New Zealand), and Paris 3 (the Sorbonne Nouvelle), and she has lectured widely both in this country and elsewhere. In 2008 she gave the Gauss Seminars in Criticism at Princeton, and she was awarded a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship from 2011-13. She is a Fellow of the British Academy.

Research Interests

Rachel's most recent book is A Child of One's Own (2013), about the changing stories and situations of parenthood. Since her first book Just Looking (about department stores), she has written several more books on consumer culture, including Carried Away: The Invention of Modern Shopping, about the history of self-service and supermarkets. Shopping with Freud explored some connections between psychoanalysis and consumer psychology, a field of research that began at the same time as psychoanalysis. Two more books have also looked at changing psychological and literary notions of selfhood: Still Crazy After All These Years: Women, Writing and Psychoanalysis, and Freudian Mythologies: Greek Tragedy and Modern Identities.

Another abiding interest is in realism, both as a specific historical movement in the nineteenth century, and as an ongoing question about how different stories with different assumptions about characters and possibilities come to count as plausible—in the stories we tell all the time in ‘real life’ (and about it), as well as in literature proper. 

Rachel's second book, on Virginia Woolf’s novels, led to a World’s Classics edition of Woolf’s spoof biography Orlando and to two Penguin volumes of Woolf’s essays. [Editions] She also has a long-standing interest in literary theory, and has translated a number of books by contemporary French philosophers, including Derrida’s Of Hospitality and Paper Machine.


A Child of One's Own: Parental Stories (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013).

A Child of One's Own    

Freudian Mythologies: Greek Tragedy and Modern Identities (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007; rpt. 2008 and pbk. 2009). (On Freud's return to the classics in formulating his theories of personal and social change and on what has changed in the likely stories of identity since Freud's own time.) Carried Away: The Invention of Modern Shopping (London: Faber and Faber, 2000 and NewYork: Columbia University Press, 2001). (On changing models of consumers and choice in the history of self-service and supermarkets.)

Feminist Destinations and Further Essays on Virginia Woolf (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1997). (A reprint of the 1988 Woolf book, with six 'further' essays.)

Shopping With Freud. London and New York: Routledge, 1993. (On notions of choice in consumer culture, psychoanalysis and feminism.) Italian translation published as Shopping con Freud (Milan: Lupetti, 1996).

Still Crazy After All These Years: Women, Writing and Psychoanalysis. London and New York: Routledge, 1992; rpt. 1998; rpt. Taylor & Francis, 2009).

Virginia Woolf: Feminist Destinations (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1988).

Just Looking: Consumer Culture in Dreiser, Gissing and Zola. London: Methuen, 1985; rpt. Forthcoming Taylor & Francis, 2009). Japanese translation published (Tokyo: Arina Shobo, 1990, rpt. 1995).

Edited Books

Editor with Introduction: Virginia Woolf, The Crowded Dance of Modern Life: Selected Essays, Volume 2 (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1993). Editor with Introduction: Virginia Woolf, Orlando (Oxford: Oxford World's Classics 1992).

Editor with Introduction, Virginia Woolf, Longman Critical Readers series (Harlow: Longman, 1992).

Editor with Introduction: Virginia Woolf, A Woman's Essays: Selected Essays, Volume 1 (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1992).

Recent Articles and Chapters in Books

‘Two interventions on realism’: ‘Untold Stories in Mrs Dalloway’ and ‘Versions of Realism in George Eliot’s Adam Bede’, Textual Practice 25:3 (2011): 394-436.

‘Introduction’ to new edition of Marion Milner, A Life of One’s Own (London: Routledge, 2011), pp. 13-32.

‘”Half Art”: Baudelaire’s Le peintre de la vie moderne’, Paragraph 34:1 (March 2011): 1-11.

'Commuting', in Restless Cities, ed. Matthew Beaumont and Gregory Dart (London: Verso, 2010).

‘Derrida’s Dying Oedipus’, on Sophocles’ Oedipus at Colonus, forthcoming in Miriam Leonard (ed.), Derrida and Antiquity (Oxford: OUP, 2010).

'"Speech Creatures": New Men in Pamela and Pride and Prejudice', in Theory-Tinged Criticism: Essays in Memory of Malcolm Bowie, ed. Diana Knight and Judith Still, special issue of Paragraph, 32:9 (July 2009): 240-51.

‘After Freud: Sophocles’ Oedipus in the Twenty-First Century’, in Timothy Mathews and Jan Parker (eds), Translation, Tradition, Trauma: The Classic and the Modern (forthcoming Oxford: OUP, 2009).

‘Psychoanalysis’, in Oxford Handbook of Hellenic Studies, ed. George Boys-Stones, Barbara Graziosi and Phiroze Vasunia (Oxford: OUP, 2009), pp. 802-10.

Translated Books - since 2000

Jacques Derrida, Paper Machine (Stanford: Stanford UP, 2005).

Jacques Derrida, Emmanuel Levinas, Jean-François Lyotard, Léon Poliakov, Luc Rosenzweig, Rita Thalmann, Pierre Vidal-Naquet, Questions for Judaism: Interviews by Elisabeth Weber (Stanford: Stanford UP, 2004).

Elisabeth Roudinesco, Why Psychoanalysis? (New York: Columbia UP, 2001).

Jacques Derrida, Of Hospitality (Stanford: Stanford UP, 2000).